How do you tap into your local farms? Join a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.
In brief… Advantages for farmers:
• Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
• Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
• Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
• Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
• Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
• Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
• Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
• Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
It’s a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. www.LocalHarvest.org has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 4,000 listed in our grassroots database. You can also research our local farmers via www.slowfoodmiami.org.
Below are two local farms who are finalizing their farm share program for the 2012-13 growing season:
Bee Heaven Farm – www.redlandorganics.com
Contact: Margie Pikarsky
Sign-up deadline: August and September
Season Length: November to April
Pick-up Locations: Serves Pompano Beach to Key West
Teena’s Pride – www.teenaspride.com
Contact: Teena and Michael
Sign-up Deadline: August and September
Season Length: November to April/May
Pick-up Locations: Throughout Miami (Whole Foods Markets)
Chef’s Tip: Chef Julie recommends keeping your favorite items stocked in your house in the fridge and the pantry, like grains, pastas, cheeses, snacks. Use your local CSA vegetables as your produce for the week. Some items she keeps on hand:
Ready-made brown rice
Quinoa and Quinoa Pasta
Rice Noodles and Soba Noodles
Jarred sauces like curries, pasta sauce, Indian braising sauces
Indian Curry and Thai Curry Pastes
Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Various Vinegars
Eggs, Salmon, Chicken
Several Cheeses like blue, goat, and Dubliner
When you get your box each week, you have everything you need to make healthy food, quickly.
Food for thought – everything you eat should be nourishing your mind, body, and spirit. It should be for the good. Ask yourself the next time you eat..
What is this?
Where did it come from?
How was it grown?
What is it doing to my body?
Is it worth it? ….